Bodies and Politics

US art of the 1960s to 1980s. Ludwig Collection

In the context of a new wave of social movements in the USA, the term body politics emerged in the 1970s. It refers to the fact that concepts, modes of perception and practices of bodies and thus also ideas of self and society are subject to social and historical change. In accordance with Peter and Irene Ludwig’s understanding of art as a mirror of its respective contemporary history, this collection presentation explores how the relationship between body and politics was reflected in US art from the 1960s to the 1980s.

After all, these were very turbulent decades with different political connotations during the presidencies of Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan. Thus, in this exhibition, we encounter controlled and protesting bodies, but also discriminated or emancipated bodies. What all artistic positions have in common is that they observe very attentively how political processes of power and oppression, of participation and exclusion express themselves physically.

In addition to numerous highlights such as Supermarket Lady (1970) by Duane Hanson or Grazing – Soup to Nuts, MGM, 1930 (1983) by Jean-Michel Basquiat, the exhibition also features rarely presented photographs by Andy Warhol and Gary Winogrand as well as video works by Joan Jonas and Bruce Nauman.

Curated by Holger Otten

Installation views, Bodies and Politics. US art of the 1960s to 1980s, Photos: Carl Brunn

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